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Emails have come a long way…

From simple plain text messages for communication to one of the most preferred channels for marketing.

With businesses large and small using HTML emails as a primary marketing tool and technological advancements, emails have evolved into highly personalized messages in real-time with visually appealing and engaging rich media elements.

There are around 4.1 billion email users worldwide and the majority of them just skim through the emails that they receive in their inbox. Most email marketers are still trying to figure out ways to engage their subscribers and STAND OUT in their inbox.

Take a look at the following emails:

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Here, one is a plain text email and the other one is an HTML email. While the plain text email works for B2B conversations, you will rarely receive such an email from a business that uses email as a tool to market and promote their products and services. The HTML email works well in highlighting the key information and conveying the message more efficiently, using elements such as colored fonts, links, CTAs, icons, and images.

HTML emails that contain visual content in the form of static images, animated GIFs, cinemagraph and video can add life to your emails and make them more engaging. Brands experiment with various forms of visual content to garner more eyeballs and improve sales with their emails.

Here are some tips and best practices to use rich media in your emails with examples from brands that use them effectively in their email campaigns to boost engagement.

Use attractive static images to support the message

Static images can grab the readers’ attention more than plain text alone. Using attractive images that support the content will help you convey the message more effectively and get users to read and engage with your emails.

You can add images into your emails either to illustrate something or just to add to the email’s aesthetics. But make sure you give a proper alternative text to all the images since certain email clients block the display of images and some may not download the images at all. Also, maintain the ideal text-to-image ratio of 80:20 and avoid conveying the message using just images.

Take a look at this email from Zillow:

Image Source: Really Good Emails

With an attractive hero image that supports the content, the email looks lively and the message is evident from the headline and the image itself. When the reader skims through the email, they only focus on the headline, the images, and the CTA, and the text is skipped.

Include animated GIFs to add life to your email

GIF animation in emails creates an illusion of motion and adds life to the email, which is not possible using static images. Using GIFs, you can illustrate complex concepts in a simplified way, in a limited space. They can also be used to enhance the look and feel of the email.

While you use animated GIFs in your emails, make sure you create them in a way that all important information is shown in the first frame itself. Some email clients and devices fail to render GIFs and display just the first frame of the animation. Hence, make sure the message is conveyed even if the GIF does not play.

Here are a few examples of brands that are using GIF animation effectively in their emails.

The brand Taylor Stitch uses GIF in the hero image to showcase the versatile uses of its products. Using GIF animation, the brand shows four different looks in the space of a single image.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Headspace use GIFs in their email to illustrate their message to have a new year resolution for a calmer and more relaxed year. The GIF enhances the value of the message and entices the users to click through the CTA.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Starbucks brings in the holiday spirits in its email with the help of a colorful GIF animation. The GIF adds bling to the email and supports the holiday theme.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Enhance the look of your emails with Cinemagraph

Cinemagraphs are a blend of images and videos that create a more lifelike visual. Typically, it is a simple GIF file with a few elements slightly moving. Using cinemagraphs in emails lets you represent images in a more realistic and attractive way, thereby increasing engagement.

Emails with cinemagraph can become bulky and cause renderability issues. Most email clients fail to render cinemagraph and hence you must avoid using it to describe the key message and if you do, include a proper description in the form of alt-text. Use it to simply attract your subscribers and get them to read your emails.

Here are a few winning examples of emails using cinemagraph.

PizzaExpress uses cinemagraph in this email to give a precise experience of delicious, steaming pizzas to the viewers. This definitely grabs attention and keeps the viewer engaged.

Source: Inbox

The brand Ace Hotel uses a cinemagraph in the hero image, which makes it stand out from the rest of the emails in the inbox. Here, it is used to enhance the overall look of the email and make it interesting.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

The highlight of this email from SquareSpace is the enthralling imagery in the form of a cinemagraph. The cinemagraph intensifies the overall theme and adds liveliness to the email.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Use video as a tool to boost click-throughs

Consumers prefer video over written content. Statistics show that video, when combined with email, can boost click-through rates and conversions by 200-300%. Video in email can be used to convey the brand story, build brand image, and engage and entertain users.

You can either embed a video into the email or add an image and link it to a video hosted online. Majority of email clients do not render videos and take longer loading times. It is therefore recommended to use a GIF or cinemagraph with a play button that would redirect the viewers to the hosting site.

Check out this email from Juno.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Here, the brand uses video to show their journey of three years. An attractive thumbnail image and a play button on it entice the subscribers to click on it. When there is a video at the top of the email, the viewers tend to click on it without reading the text in the remaining email.

In a nutshell…

With millions of emails being sent and received every day, it is important for your business to create and send attention-grabbing emails that stand out in the subscribers’ inbox and engage them. To achieve this, include rich media in your HTML emails and use them efficiently, keeping the limitations and their workarounds in mind.

Guest author: Kevin George is the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks – one of the fastest growing Email design and coding companies, specializes in crafting beautiful email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free master email templates. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. 

The post How To Jazz Up Your Emails With Rich Media (Inspiration From Brands That Are Nailing It) appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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We are all seeking one thing.

Happiness.

But I am not talking about those fleeting moments of happiness that we all have but a foundation and sense of well being that transcends momentary joy.

We know when we feel those joyful moments.

A completed task.

Experiencing a beautiful sunrise.

A goal achieved.

Having your work affirmed.

A time spent with friends connecting and laughing.

But joy can be fleeting.

The darkness

But for many once that fleeting moment is past, familiar feelings of dread show up.

Anxiety emerges.

Reality creeps in.

Often it turns up as we awake. In darkness.

Fears both real and imagined knock on our front door. Debilitating and demotivating.

Fears about money, relationships and life that challenge our security.

George Harrison sums up what many of us have felt as we move through life in those dark moments in his song “Beware of Darkness”

“Watch out now, take care. 

Beware of the thoughts that linger. 

Winding up inside your head. 

The hopelessness around you.

In the dead of night”

But how do reduce those dark thoughts that linger that show up just before dawn on awakening?

Is it a series of life habits?

What we all need and crave is to create a life that takes joyful moments and stitches it together into a life of fulfilment.

Building a life that flourishes despite the pain and sorrow that inevitably appear. That sustains us with an inner sense of well being. A foundation so strong that it will support us when times get tough.

How do you achieve that?

It is an ecosystem and process that becomes a series of habits.

It is a big project and it is the work of a lifetime.

The “well being” model

Martin Seligman in his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being he  outlines the PERMA model as a scientifically based model of well being.

It is one of the best approaches I have seen about creating a life that is about innate and sustainable well being and success.

He is commonly known as the father of positive psychology. The model is based upon 5 pillars and distilled into the acronym “PERMA”.

  • Postive emotions – Feeling good
  • Engagement – Finding flow
  • Relationships – Authentic connections
  • Meaning – Purposeful existence
  • Achievement – A sense of accomplishment

Image source:

The big question is how do you nourish each step?

What activities are needed to have that foundational feeling of well being?

To arrive at flourishing.

1. Positive emotion

The big question here is how do you “manufacture” positive emotions. Is that possible?

The nature and nurture challenge is that many of us are born somewhere on the spectrum of innate pessimism and its opposite, optimism.

Can you learn optimism?

12 Years ago when confronted with a series of life changing experiences that threatened my world as I knew it, I stumbled upon a book “The Power of Now” by Eckart Tolle.

It’s simple premise?

“The past has gone and it is what it is, The future hasn’t happened and doesn’t exist. All you have is now. And what’s wrong with this moment” 

This thought process alone made a significant impact on my life, beliefs and attitudes. But I had to learn new beliefs and create new ways of thinking.

The darkness of internal chatter

But for all of us there is a monster in the room. It sits on our shoulder. Whispering.

It’s our consciousness.

It’s darkness.

It’s chatter.

It’s negativity

We need to develop the habit of banishing it to being the uninvited enemy.

This a Wolf in sheeps clothing.

Maybe the word thinking as owned and being “you”  is overrated

We are the listener.

Not the thinker.

We need to label this chatter and conversation for what it is.

As the uninvited guest.

The evil uncle, who if they showed up and stayed for a visit you would send them on their way.

We need to label this debilitating visitor for what they are.

The enemy.

Not you.

Learned optimism habits

Another simple daily habit is to be grateful. Write down every day three things that you are grateful for.

But according to Seligman when we encounter adversity we react by thinking about it.

These then become beliefs and even habits.

And these can be the difference between dejection and giving up versus sustainable well being and constructive action.

How do you stop certain types of beliefs setting off the “giving up” response?

How do you interrupt this vicious circle? Here are his suggested steps to interrupt the internal negative and pessimistic chatter.

Step 1: See the connection between adversity, belief and consequence.

Step 2: See how the ABC’s operate everyday in your life. These are Adversity, Beliefs and Consequence.

Example:

Adversity: Someone zips into your parking space that you had your eye on.

Belief: You think “How rude!” They have trespassed on what you thought was your space.

Consequence: You get angry, roll down your window, and shout at the other driver.

So….

Take a note through your day and record the ABC’s.

A: Record the incident – this is the just the recording of the incident and the facts.

B: Then record your beliefs and this is how you interpret the adversity – what are your thoughts at the time. Eg: I just blew my diet and I feel incompetent are beliefs.

C:  Then record the your feelings and what you did. Did you feel sad, guilty or anxious? Write them down and also what did you then do?

This is about creating powerful reflective awareness. This then provides a reference for change.

2. Engagement

We all have experienced those moments where time just stops. It maybe for hours or it maybe just for a few brief minutes.

This is what we call “flow” which can be described as intense engagement.

One of the best books I have ever read about this is “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by  Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi.

In his investigations of “optimal experience” he revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.

Your mission in life is to find what type of activity provides and nourishes deep engagement.

3. Relationships

Despite modern society selling us the lie that “more stuff” means more happiness the truth lies somewhere else.

Connectedness and community are also at the core of true happiness.

And this is what science has revealed.

In 1938 at Harvard College they tracked the lives of 724 men. And every year they asked about their work, home lives and their health.

It is the world’s longest study in happiness.

And the clearest message that we get from this 75-year research is this:

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier“.

Quality connections are by far the biggest contributor to a state of well being.

The three big takeaways from the study?

Loneliness kills, quality relationships matter and they protect our brains and bodies.

4. Meaning

The hedonism of modern society is all about focusing on you. Your pleasure.

The place where we need to arrive at and sustain is one where life has meaning beyond yourself. Contributing to making the world a better place. Making a difference.

The Russian novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, talks about life being a “crack of light between two pools of darkness” – the darkness before we were born, and the darkness after we die”.

But the darkness that sits in almost everyone’s soul is the fear of death. The second pool.

And it’s this sense of dread can tear at the fabric of well being. Especially when our security is threatened. That can happen we experience loss. And it will.

“Death does itch. It itches all the time” – Yalom.

So how do we transcend our mortality?

How do we stare it in the face and laugh at its demons.

Irvin Yalom’s is professor emeritus of psychiatry at Stanford University, has a theory that our only hope of immortality lies in “our ability to generate feelings and memories in those we encounter every day”

He calls it the ripple effect. Here are two ways he sees it operating.

  • Our children can ripple us into the future. They offer us a promise of living beyond our normal life span. Our contribution for the future.
  • The friends we meet and interact with leave a ripple that transcends time as we change their lives by what we share.

But what we create also leaves a ripple effect.

And the digital world and the World Wide Web allow us to ripple further and faster.

Ideas are one thing but sharing your creation to the waiting world is where the magic starts, happens and continues.

The reality in this digital age is that your published ideas and creations online will exist until the Internet is disconnected and/or the electricity is switched off.

But I am not talking about sharing cat videos. It is meaningful creations that sit in the place of “Deep Work”. It is producing content of consequence.

It is the concept that we bring meaning to our lives by knowing you are making a difference that transcends our mortality.

I create, I publish, I flourish.

5. Achievement

Achievement sounds like you have arrived. That your work is done.

I would prefer the variation…”achieving”.

Sustainable “Well Being” should be a continuum that doesn’t stop, that flows into the future.  Continuing a life journey that continues to produce and gives to humanity.

We need to keep giving our genius to the world. It should be about continuing to create, publishing and sharing your creation.

But there is another benefit that achieving in even small ways that is motivating and produces a feeling and a glow of success.

It doesn’t have to be large. You do not have to appear on television or be feted by the paparazzi.

It is the small pats on the back online, the affirmation that what you has shared matters. Moments of “micro validations”.

The social web has provided those moments when people interact online and validate your revelations.

These are the ubiquitous “likes”, affirming comments and even the growth of social network followers.

These small endorsements and recognition can be addictive but they indeed affirming.

That is what has made the social web so compelling and even sometimes obsessive.

The challenge here is that many people are afraid to be judged so they don’t share their gifts. They don’t think they are good enough.

They are unwilling to be vulnerable. But there is power in vulnerability.

It is raw, real and authentic and people are attracted to that.

What about you?

Are you able to take those moments of joy and glue them together to a create a flourishing life. To experience well being.

What works for you?

Are you creating ripples?

The post The 5 Powerful Pillars for Creating A Life of True Happiness appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Freelance writing is an exciting and interesting profession.

This is because, as a freelance writer you’re directly involved in the sprout of businesses and companies both offline and online, by helping in communicating their ideas effectively through writing.

This leads to amplified audience engagement, improved online visibility, increased ROI, and so on.

However, your career as a freelance writer could be tiring and boring, since you’re a one-man business involved in a lot of things.

If you’re not researching for article ideas for clients, you’ll most likely be writing content for them.

Similarly, you might be searching the internet for the best images to accompany your blog post, or thinking of creating an infographic for your next guest post idea.

The truth is if you’re not careful you might fizzle out soon due to these numerous tasks.

Why you need these resources as a freelance writer

In order to have a productive and fun-filled career as a freelance writer, you need to arm yourself with some resources.

With them, you’ll be able to craft engaging content on a consistent basis, reach out to more clients for work, and create awesome images for your posts.

That’s not all.

You’ll be able to focus on what matters at a particular time, manage your clients’ social media campaigns, help them with awesome infographics for their business, and so on.

Think about it:

Which would you prefer?

  • Running to social media on a daily basis to promote your services, or scheduling a series of posts across various social media platforms weekly or monthly for that purpose?
  • Spending hours on the internet to get your next blog post title or being able to do it within minutes with the aid of some tools?
  • Searching endlessly on the internet for the email addresses of prospects you want to target, or getting them within the click of a button when you use some resources?

The truth is:

In all of these, you’d prefer the latter to the former.

The resources you need as a freelance writer

As a freelance writer, you’re a small business owner.

You work within limits, deciding the kind of clients you want to take on, and the projects you’ll be interested in.

The resources you use in this case must reflect your kind of business.

From awesome resources that aid you to improve your craft greatly, to books that help you in the sprout of your business, then blogs that update you with the latest industry tips and news.

Likewise, tools that help turbocharge your productivity, make designing images a pleasurable task and ease the research process for you.

And so many more.

One thing is for sure, with these resources and tools handy, your freelance writing business will never remain the same again.

Wow your clients at all times

As a freelance writer, your most important asset is your writing skill.

When you write well, clients will love your work and always come back for more.

But if you don’t, you’ll most likely lose them to the next available freelance writer for hire.

What if I tell you that, there are resources that’ll make you become the clients’ favorite all the time?

With them, you’ll be able to polish your writing skill immensely on a consistent basis.

Not only that, you’ll become more confident to prospect for more clients, and land high-paying ones too.

Here they are in no particular order:

#1. The Purdue Writing Lab

You can never have enough of anything related to writing as a freelance writer. This is exactly what the Purdue Writing Lab is all about. It’s the hub for everything related to writing.

In this awesome resource, you’ll find a series of informational articles and books on the correct usage of the English language. It’ll help you greatly to update your know-how of writing, and how to do it effortlessly.

#2. The Elements Of Style

Writing effectively, convincingly, and powerfully is a herculean task for many freelance writers.

This is so because the English Language is a complex one.

However, with this resource, which is the online version of J.K Strunk’s The Elements of style, you’ll be able to develop your writing skill in no small measure.

#3. Guide to Grammar and Writing

When writing, special attention should be paid to grammar and its usage. After all, grammar is the backbone of writing.

One way to get good at this is through the use of a guide which you can always refer to at all times. With this guide, your grammar and writing will improve drastically.

#4. Copywriting 101

Copywriting is a specialty most freelance writers want to delve into. Not only is it lucrative, it’s also compelling and revealing. No doubt about it, if you’re damn good at copywriting, you become highly sought after by clients.

With this Copywriting guide by the Copyblogger team, you’ll be able to put a foot ahead of other writers in the business.

#5. Grammar Girl

This awesome web resource by Mignon Fogarty is your “go-to” website which contains resources and materials on the correct use of grammar. One amazing feature of this resource is that the founder uses humor and everyday examples to drive home her points.

It’s super resourceful and I recommend that you check it out regularly due to its frequent updates.

#6. Daily Grammar

One thing is sure, if you want to become a great writer, you need to update knowledge and best practices in the use of grammar.

It’s needless to say that, this is a must for all freelance writers. With this resourceful blog, you’re sure of learning something novel about grammar every day.

Take your freelance writing business to the next level

As I said earlier, a freelance writer is a business owner.

It’s only when you see yourself as such, that you’ll see a significant difference in your freelance writing business.

Unfortunately, most freelance writers only see themselves as being “self-employed”.

They’re neither interested in taking a critical assessment of the business side of freelance writing.

If you belong to this category, these books will help you immensely.

With them, you’ll understand the business side of freelance writing, get more clients, and make more money in the process.

#7. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris

This awe-inspiring book by Tim Ferris is regarded as one of the best business books ever. It’s a practical guide which shows you how to escape the 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich.

In the book, Tim Ferris shares tips and secrets that’ll help you achieve more productivity in your work, by working less and earning more.

#8. The E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work

In this book, Michael E. Gerber gives a deep insight into why most small businesses fail to work.

Not only that, he gives a solution to the problem identified, by showing you what you can do about it.

#9. The Freelancer’s Bible

If you want to know more about freelancing, then this co-authored book by Sara Horowitz and Toni Sciarra Poynter, is a must-have for you.

With it, you’ll learn strategies that’ll make it easy for you to be able to have a career of your dream on your own terms.

#10. The Hard Things About Hard Things

Building a business such as freelance writing could be difficult. Most times, your questions are mostly unanswered since it’s a totally new terrain.

With this book by Ben Horowitz, you’ll be able to overcome that.

Ben explains what you should do when you find yourself in this situation, and the steps you must take in that regard.

Follow the latest industry news and trends

Content marketing, search engine optimisation, social media marketing, inbound marketing, are topics that interest you.

This is so because, it constitutes a greater chunk of what you’ll write about, and the solutions you’ll provide your clients.

As a freelance writer, you need to be up-to-date with the latest happenings in these industries.

Your best bet is a list of blogs that makes it easy for you to follow these trends.

With them, you’ll know what your industry needs most, and what you should be writing about.

#11. Content Marketing Institute

When it comes to Content Marketing, this is the “go-to” blog for everything related to that subject matter.

On this blog, you’ll learn tips and strategies that’ll aid you to improve your Business to Business (B2B) and Inbound Marketing.

It’ll surely broaden your knowledge and expertise in these industries.

#12. B2B Marketing

This is your ultimate resource and guide for anything related to content creation process involving businesses.

On this blog, you’ll learn the terminologies, best practices, and trends that’ll help you greatly in order to succeed with B2B.

#13. Marketing Profs

Ever heard that successful freelance writers are great marketers?

If that’s so, marketing is an area you must pay a great deal of attention to as a freelance writer.

If you don’t know where to get started, this amazing resource comes in handy.

With blog posts, case studies and eBooks on marketing from a diverse team of marketers all over the world, you’ll sure take your marketing skill to an entirely new level.

#14. Seth Godin

As a freelance writer, you’re automatically an entrepreneur.

So, if you want to go far in your freelance writing business, you must know more about entrepreneurship.

Who else comes to mind in this subject matter than the exceptional and world-renowned entrepreneur, Seth Godin?

Seth, who is the author of over 18 books, provides useful tips on entrepreneurship for writers on his blog.

Amazingly, he keeps his blog posts short and simple, yet informative.

#15. Copyblogger

Founded by Brian Clark, this is a place to be if you want to learn more about copy writing, digital marketing, and content marketing.

One great thing about this resource is that it features experts weekly on these topics.

Brian and his Rainmaker digital team, will provide you with words that’ll work for you in your freelance writing business.

#16. Hubspot

This is a marketing tool for freelance writers.

On the Hubspot blog, you’ll learn marketing tips and strategies that can help you improve in your freelance writing business.

Another advantage it has for you as a freelance writer is that it has a lot of free courses you can enrol in.

Some of the courses include: Inbound marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, and so much more.

#17. Pro Blogger

Since 2004, this blog by Darren Rowse has been the home for bloggers wanting to create, grow and make money from their blogs.

This is useful for you as a freelance writer, since you’ll most likely be involved in blog content creation for your clients.

This resource helps you to learn more about blogging tips that you can use for your clients in the long run.

#18. Enchanting Marketing

Henneke Duistermaat prides herself as an irreverent writer on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook content.

And she does just that with Enchanting Marketing.

On her blog, you’ll learn a lot about writing in an enchanting way, creating seductive content and adding sparkle to your business writing.

Wherever you are in your writing journey, her regular blog content will take you by the hand to become enhanced in your craft.

Refine your articles

The importance of editing for you as a freelance writer cannot be over-emphasised.

A writer who fails to edit their articles will soon run out of business.

While this is so, getting an editor could be a thorn in the flesh.

Sometimes they’re out of reach, or simply costly for you to afford.

With these tools, your articles will become more punchy and conversational.

Not only that, you’ll be able to edit on the go directly from your browser or Microsoft word.

#19. Grammarly

Grammarly was first released about 9 years ago, to enhance the writing of the English language.

With the software, you’ll be able to automatically detect potential grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation, and style mistakes when writing.

Not only that, it helps you suggest corrections to them on the go.

This’s a tool which should be on the radar of your choice as a freelance writer.

#20. Hemmingway App

The tool promises to make your writing bold and clear.

With it, you’ll be able to know the mistakes in your articles, whether it’s the excessive use of phrases, passive voice, difficult sentence, and so on.

This tool is free and easy to use.

All you need to do is copy and paste the article you want to edit on the app, and you’ll start editing instantly.

#21. 1 Checker

Ever thought of a way of proof reading your documents easily without spending a dime?

Well, 1 checker is here for you.

With it, you’re able to check your spelling and grammar, enhance text readability, make a professional impression with natural writing, and so on.

Above all, you pay absolutely nothing for using this tool.

#22. Pro Writing Aid

This is an editing tool that’s trusted by more than 500,000 writers, authors, copywriters, and so on all over the world.

With this tool, you’ll be able to edit faster, fix style issues, eliminate errors, and learn as you edit.

Mostly a paid tool, it has a free version which allows you to edit 500 words at a time online.

It’s also available on Microsoft word, Google chrome, Google Docs, and so on.

#23. Readability Score

This tool takes a unique perspective to the editing of articles for your online readers.

What it does is that it provides a readability score, which’s a calculated index that predicts the level of education one needs to obtain before being able to read your text.

It checks for the sentence length, keyword density, passive word count, and so on.

Although it has a free version which’s available for all, its PRO version has more features such as keyword analysis, content analysis, Email marketing scoring, and so much more.

Prove your expertise

When creating technical content, you’ll encounter some issues as a freelance writer.

This might not be because you’re not well-grounded in your writing, but due to the complexity of the client’s specification.

Take for instance; you’re asked to write an article using the APA or Chicago manual of style.

This’s tricky right?

What if you’re required to work on a whitepaper and you have to deal with acronyms and abbreviations, what do you do?

Most times, you’ll resort to Google for solutions.

With these tools, you’ll have a manual handy that you’ll always consult whenever you want to make references.

#24. APA Style

When you run into problems with the use of APA style in your writing, you’ll find this resource helpful.

It provides you with detailed information on how to use the APA style in your writing.

Think of anything such as crafting headlines, lists, table of contents, and quotations.

Not only that, it also provides you with the right information that can be used for websites, e-books, interviews, social media, and on and on.

#25. The Free Dictionary

If you ever need an online dictionary with a lot of features, then this’s definitely for you.

On the website, you have access to a lot of learning materials such as word of the day, a daily grammar lesson, article of the day, this day in history, and quotation of the day.

Similarly, it serves like a “one-stop” dictionary which provides you access to other useful writing resources such as Idioms, encyclopaedia, medical dictionary, financial dictionary, and so on.

#26. Chicago manual of style

Just like the APA style resource mentioned above, this’s your “go-to” resource for the Chicago manual of style.

It’s definitely an indispensable reference tool for you as a freelance writer.

It helps you with up-to-date information regarding the usage, style, and grammar of the Chicago manual of style.

#27. Acronym Finder

When confronted with the use of Acronym in your writing, you don’t need to fidget.

With this resource, you’re definitely on the right track.

With more than 5 million acronyms and abbreviations, it’s definitely the world’s largest and most comprehensive dictionary of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms.

Through it, you can find out what any acronym or abbreviation you want to know stands for.

Practice writing without the hassle

To be an exceptional freelance writer, you need to engage in consistent practice.

Doing so, will make you more confident with your writing, and make you the “go-to” freelance writer for clients’ projects.

One major problem most freelance writers face with practice, is doing it the right way; having an accountability-check that keeps them on their toes.

To be able to checkmate this, these practice tools will help you greatly.

#28. 750 Words

What does it mean to join over 400,000 other writers to learn the habit of writing every day?

Awesome isn’t it?

Well, that’s what this great resource does for you.

When you sign up, you’re sure of writing about three pages on a daily basis.

Not only that, you can also track the time it takes you to complete the task; making you more efficient and have fun in the process; by engaging actively with fellow writers.

#29. T Words

With this powerful tool, you’re on the right track to becoming a better writer in no distant time.

This is because, when you join other writers who use this amazing resource, you’ll be nudged to become better at your craft.

With it, you can monitor how long it takes you to complete a writing task, the number of words you’ve written daily, and on and on.

#30. Daily Page

Sometimes, you wake up and not motivated to write anything.

With this paid resource, you’ll be able to get over that, as it keeps you motivated to write every day.

Here, you can create a daily writing routine with a series of writing prompts, access writing courses, and also use a distraction-free writing space.

It’s a resource you can always bank on as a freelance..

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Conversion optimization tools are estimated to have an average ROI of 223%.

And that is totally expected as they’re largely responsible for most conversions and revenue.

However, CRO tools are more expensive than many other marketing tools, too (as you’ll soon see in this article). And there are so many of them out there.

But at the end of the day, it’s not using these tools that matters but what they do for your business. And what they do largely depends on how you utilize them. In this post, I’ll show you strategies to get the best out of your conversion optimization tools.

1. Interpret data to make it relevant to growth

We’ve all been there; staring at analytics and a bunch of graphs and numbers, trying to make sense of all that’s on your screen. You know, like wondering why this heatmap – for example – is showing the budget field getting way more click-throughs than the buy (or submit) button on a page on my site…

But of course, it could simply be because more people are seeing the budget options and realizing it’s not a fit for them.

60% of marketers analyze customer journeys to improve conversions. But how do we ensure we’re rightly interpreting the insights and data provided by CRO tools?

It can boggle the mind. The conversion tools we all know like Hotjar, Mailchimp, Kissmetrics, and Google Analytics tell you how conversions are and aren’t happening on your site and within your business – which is super helpful of course. But what they won’t do is interpret the data they provide; that’s your part of the job.

Andrew Stephen, Associate Dean at the University of Oxford, agrees in a Forbes article that marketers’ interpretation of data is not always accurate: “…marketers’ interpretations of patterns found in data by machine learning and AI analytics systems are still subject to bias and could mislead.”

How do you go from data acquisition to sound data interpretation? These three tips will help:

Tip #1: Narrow down to actual conversion metrics

Pinpointing actual conversion metrics and KPIs is crucial to helping your mind focus on the optimal use of conversion tools. Or as Study.com says it: “There are two issues with interpreting the data. [The number one thing is] you need to focus on what you are looking for.

What metrics do you refer to as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for conversions in your business? Free trial sign-ups? Orders completed? Leads generated? Call requests? Average order value? You want to pay attention to key KPIs like these to use conversion tools optimally.

For example, the founders at Grow and Convert consider leads generated from their blog posts as their primary conversion metric, so they narrow down to that:

Narrowing down your conversion optimization metrics helps better conversions as you’re able to focus on them squarely, pouring all your resources on them.

In an AMA on Online Geniuses – an online community for marketers – Oli Gardner was asked the following question: Which business metrics do you think Unbounce performs best at?

Oli’s answer: “Hmm. We’re making great progress at reducing churn (we have a task force focused specifically on that this year)… Our NPS score for people who have any contact with our customer success team is incredible (85), so that’s definitely something we try to leverage as much as possible…”

The Unbounce team – at the time of this AMA – was focusing on reducing churn. They even had a task force for it. That’s pretty much where all their conversion optimization efforts were going. You can imagine the impact of an axe that’s repeatedly hitting one spot on a tree, as opposed to hitting different spots on the tree.

Does this mean other non-conversion related metrics – page visits, traffic sources, bounce rates, time on page, etc. – aren’t important anymore? Well, not exactly. You still want to compare metrics like page visits to conversion numbers, traffic sources vs. conversions, time on page vs. actual conversion rates, mobile/desktop users vs. conversions, and so on.

So yes, metrics unrelated to actual conversions are still important when using conversion optimization tools. But you want to focus on actual conversion metrics to use conversion tools optimally.

Tip #2: Avoid confirmation bias like a plague

On average, companies are spending as much as $2,000 a month on CRO tools.

With this pricey type of tool, you need to be sure being stuck on confirmation bias doesn’t deter your much-needed ROI.

Associate professor emeritus of Health Economics Of Addiction at the University of Illinois, Shahram Heshmat, explains confirmation bias this way:

“Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.”

That a tool shows what you’ve been desiring to see doesn’t mean it’s valid. You can relate, right? That moment when you’re seeing a 70% lift in conversions and goose gumps start getting the best of you. The data may not be entirely accurate, you should do some further research.

The famous two-tailed tests can come in handy here; where you’re not just looking at the interpretation of data in just one direction.

For example, the awesome team at SumAll shared how they thought a conversion optimization tool was right when it showed that their first homepage variation had an 18.1% conversions over the second one.

But because the team is highly data-oriented, they decided to confirm this data. So they ran another test – completing a two-tailed test. And voila, they found their conversions were only 10-15% of what the tool was showing! That’s not a very pleasant place for any marketer to be. In the team’s own words, “it’s as if the money you thought you’d been earning at your job turned out to be counterfeit, or only worth 10-15% of it’s promised value.”

Thus, you want to run two-tailed tests to filter out any false positives that CRO tools (or any other marketing tool for that matter) could be showing you.

Another brilliant tactic – mostly as a second option – to avoid data misinterpretation is to run your thoughts by your fellow or even more experienced marketers on the team. This way, you’re not considering only one possibility of the effect of data, but two.

Avoid always being ready to believe data. It’s crazy, but it happens to the best of us. But it also shouldn’t be what happens all the time. How do you combat being a victim of confirmation bias? Get other experts’ perspectives – which leads to my next point.

Tip #3: Get other experts’ perspectives

To avoid confirmation biases, getting other experts’ perspectives is a brilliant solution. Odds are high you aren’t the only expert in your team.

Leverage the expertise of other team members and you’ll get some varied points of view on the data you’re staring at. There’s almost always an angle you’re not seeing that someone else might see, which explains why teams outperform individual decision-makers 66% of the time.

Keep in mind that marketing decisions are usually risky. You’re making decisions as a marketer that affect how your entire organization makes money. Implementing change based solely on your interpretation of data could have nasty repercussions; it’s better a team takes the heat or the glory than just you.

Caitlin Burgess, ‎Senior Content Marketing Manager at TopRank Marketing, shares how important multiple perspectives are for marketing success:

“If there’s anything that I’ve learned in my time at TopRank Marketing, it’s that I can’t achieve marketing awesomeness on my own. I need multiple perspectives.”

Rather than assuming, try telling a colleague something as simple as, “Most people who spend up to one minute on our homepage now convert into trial users. Could that be because we changed the CTA button color?”

The colleague might agree with your data interpretation, cool. If she doesn’t, even better – she adds to the pot of possibilities of why homepage visitors now convert better. Maybe it’s a change in your copy, image, or trial period. In any case, since she doesn’t agree with your interpretation of data, you’ve gained new insight from having shared your thoughts with a colleague. You have another way to interpret your data.

Try this with two or more other team members and you might just end up with a wealth of quality data interpretations. Of course, you might come across one or two crappy ideas, but that’s a small price to pay for other quality ones you get. In the end, getting other experts’ perspectives on your data fosters better decision making.

Hold on a second: Some well-known experts shared what their favorite CRO tools are with me. Check it out in the section just before the conclusion. Thank me later.

Another major factor to consider when using conversion optimization tools is the cost involved versus the inherent potential.

2. The cost of the tool vs. its potential

Of all marketing tools, conversion tools are often especially expensive. Yet, only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates. While they are invaluable, conversion optimization tools can do damage to scaling if they are more expensive than the results they bring.

For example, Kissmetrics charges at least $500/mo…

While their pricing details aren’t publicly available, Optimizely is estimated to cost about $36,000/yr to $200,000 – according to Convert.

Convert costs at least $449/month…

These are pretty expensive tools, so you want to ensure you’re not wasting money.

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios shared with me how Hotjar helped him figure out the best position to place testimonials on a page on his site.

“Two reports in Hotjar answered the testimonial placement question. The first was the click heat map that showed the clicks on the carousel (which are, of course, non-pageview interactions). It showed that 5.7% of visitors were clicking. Not horrible. [But] if I remove the carousel and stack them instead, 4.5x as many visitors will see the second testimonial. That’s a bit of analysis that you can’t do in Google Analytics without a lot of fancy event tracking, which is a headache…”

This way, Andy is getting tangible results from Hotjar and isn’t just throwing money at the tool – just for the sake of it. Every tool should pay for its cost and provide some crucial benefits. Or at least, before spending money on a tool, check your other tools to see if there are any overlapping functions.

Also, ask questions that determine whether or not a tool is really useful or it’s just nice on paper. There are new tools popping up every day, and it can be tempting to drop money you don’t have based on great marketing promises.

3. The value of converted visitors

Regardless of how powerful or expensive your conversion optimization tools are, they’re useless if the customers they bring in are not your target customers (AKA people who will remain on your list but almost never convert into paying customers since your product isn’t for them).

This might seem pretty basic, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses are careless about the value of people converting on their site. They just want people to subscribe, and that’s it. So, on their forms, you see things like “sign up for our free trial” “get our latest tips” and so on. Messaging like this doesn’t exactly speak to the people you’re targeting. And so, every Tom, Joe, and Mary will be signing up.

Instead, use copy that speaks to your target audience. Shopify, for instance, uses the forms and CTAs on their blog to ensure people signing up are entrepreneurs – that’s their target audience:

Shopify creates a lot of content on content marketing, SEO, how to get traffic, and the like. These are topics that attract a whole lot of people who aren’t even Shopify’s target audience – entrepreneurs. With all the thousands and millions of monthly visitors they get, a good way Shopify ensures its conversion tools are only bringing in entrepreneurs into its database is by targeting entrepreneurs in their conversion efforts.

Here’s the downside of using conversion tools without targeted messaging: not only will conversions suffer as a result of weak copy, but when conversions do happen, odds are high you’ll get the wrong people signing up – since you’ve communicated a wrong/weak/untargeted message on your opt-in forms and sign-up pages. And because they’re not your ideal customers, they remain in your database and never become customers – while you still pay the cost of acquiring them as customers.

It’s not enough to use conversion tools to get sign-ups, you want to ensure your tools are getting the right sign-ups.

Bonus: The 5 CRO Tools Vetted by Pro Marketers

I reached out to veteran marketers, asking them to share their favorite conversion optimization tools and why they’ve chosen them. Get the report right here.

Wrapping up…

Conversion tools are powerful, but they’re nothing without expert marketers manning them to bring the best out of them. When marketing tools meet experts, an explosion usually happens. The strategies above can equip you to use conversion optimization tools optimally. Ensure your data interpretation is on point. If you can, get expert colleagues to look at data before concluding its interpretation.

Also, if your tool isn’t providing any tangible value or is offering a solution that’s offered in another tool, let it go. Finally, work on getting high-quality conversions. Your best conversions are your target customers who sign up today.

Guest author: Victor Ijidola drives leads and sales for B2B and B2C brands via content marketing and copywriting. He’s available for hire and has been featured on sites like The Next Web, Entrepreneur, Kissmetrics and many more. Find him at Premium Content Shop.

The post How To Boost Your ROI By 223% With Conversion Optimization Tools appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Understanding how your SEO efforts are actually working requires studying the data created by the traffic you receive after implementing new tactics.

No longer is simply looking at keyword ranking enough to assess the effectiveness of your work. To properly measure the return on investment earned by your SEO practices there are now a wide variety of reports that you need to study.

In this article, we’ll go over the ten most important SEO metrics you should consider when putting together reports that will evaluate your SEO efforts.

#1. Number of Clicks

Starting from the Search Console, you can access a report that will tell you the number of organic clicks your site has received as well as which search queries generated those clicks.  You can compare the number of clicks received from month to month allowing you to determine which search queries are responsible for the most clicks.  This report will also allow you to pinpoint which landing pages are attracting the most clicks and what page elements are driving those clicks.

To get to this report, go to “Search Traffic” on the Search Console and click on “Search Analytics.”  You can also filter the results by Search Type allowing you to differentiate between image and text searches.

#2. Goal Completion

Understanding that your goals are successfully completed will play a large role in assessing the value of your SEO campaign. It’s possible to construct a report that allows you to determine your goal values, the goal conversion rates and the number of goal completions. By filtering the results to report solely on organic traffic you have the ability to calculate your return on investment derived from your unpaid SEO efforts.

In Google Analytics, check under the “Conversions” tab for the “Goals” and “Overview” area.  If you “Add Segment” and choose “Organic Traffic” from the list, you’ll be able to refine the report to bypass any paid or inorganic searches.

#3. Bounce Rate

If someone visits a single page on your website and then leaves, Google Analytics would report a 100% bounce rate or one bounce, depending on the type of report you’re viewing.  Depending on what you’ve designed your website for, a high bounce rate can be either a positive or negative metric. A high bounce rate could indicate that the information on your site isn’t what your users are looking for which causes them to leave. On the other hand, a search query may lead a user directly to a page on your site that immediately answers their needs making the necessity of visiting more pages irrelevant.

To view the bounce rate of your main landing pages, go to “Behavior,”  “Site Content” and “Landing Pages.”  If you want to view organic traffic only, make sure to filter for that.

#4. Exit Pages

Understanding from which pages visitors are leaving your website can give you further insight into the information provided by those pages. What is it about the highest ranked exit pages that are causing your visitors to continue on elsewhere?  Is that the desired effect or do you need these pages to perform better in keeping the user engaged? By testing various configurations of these pages, you may be able to better achieve your desired result.

For the exit page report, go to “Behavior,”  “Site Content” and “Exit Pages.”

#5. Keyword Ranking

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, keyword ranking is no longer the only metric you need to track to understand the viability of your SEO efforts. However, it still plays a very important role in getting traffic to your website. By understanding which keywords are driving the most traffic to the target site, you can increase your chances of reaching the top of the search engine results page (SERP) without having to rely on paid searches or other types of paid marketing.

By using the “Queries” report in the Search Console you’ll be able to see which keywords your site is ranking for, the number of impressions they receive, the click through rate and their Google rankings.

#6. Mobile Usability

Google has announced repeatedly that websites that are slow or do not work well for smartphone or tablet users will be ranked lower on the SERPs.  Understanding where mobile users are having trouble navigating your site can allow you to reorganize and adjust appropriately.

Access the mobile usability report by going to “Search Traffic,” in the Search Console and selecting “Mobile Usability.”

#7. Lifetime Value

Accessing the lifetime value report allows you to assess the value of a unique user compared to your business goals. This is a relatively new report offered by Google Analytics which can predict the potential revenue of a user arriving on your site due to various acquisition efforts on your behalf.  The metrics per user you can choose from include Appviews, Goal Completions, Pageviews, Revenue, Session Duration, Sessions, Tenure and Transactions.

To access this data, click “Audience” and Lifetime Value.”

#8. Crawl Errors

If Google isn’t able to successfully crawl your website, your chances of appearing on the SERPs are slim to none. By understanding which pages on your site are preventing the Google bots from crawling your site, you’ll be able to repair them and get them back to proper functioning. By keeping an eye on the crawl error report you’ll be able to correct problems before they seriously affect your page rankings.

Access the Crawl Error report by clicking “Crawl” and “Crawl Error” on the Search Console.

#9. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP pages have been around for a couple of years now and should already play a role in your website design to create fast loading web pages for mobile users. Google’s rollout of AMP has made it much easier for website developers to increase the speed and improve the user experience of mobile users by providing an easy-to-use framework for creating mobile pages.

To view the pages of your site that are having AMP issues, click “Search Appearance” and “Accelerated Mobile Pages” in the Search Console.

#10. Inbound Link Quality

Backlinking has always played a large role in SEO, but as time has progressed the quality of those links has become much more important than just the quantity. Judging the quality of your inbound links will allow you to assess your off page SEO efforts and come up with more appropriate link building campaigns to increase your traffic.

To access the inbound link report, click on “Traffic Sources,” “Sources” and “Referral” in Google Analytics.

Now, you are ready to start measuring the most important metrics of 2018!

Guest author: Jamie FitzHenry is the founder of Grizzly, a Bristol SEO agency.

The post The 10 Most Significant SEO Metrics You Need To Study and Improve appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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There are no two ways about it; modern business events have been transformed and arguably revolutionized by digital technology.

In addition to helping businesses and organizations host events designed to meet specific requirements, the prevalence of mobile internet and smartphones facilitates the collection of valuable real-time data that can be used to inform everything from future events to key business decisions. From smooth event check-ins to enhanced networking and seamless content sharing opportunities, the benefits of event technology are visible at every level.

Although you might assume that technology impedes face-to-face communications, it actually creates new opportunities to connect with others and enhances those connections when they are formed.

With the pressure to create impressive events increasing, I want to examine five event technologies that are making waves in the event management and event marketing industry.

#1. Social media

Valuable channels for businesses and event marketing professionals alike, social media platforms have reshaped the way brands, organizers, clients, and delegates interact at every stage of an event cycle. As a promotional tactic, social media can be used in different ways and for different purposes before, during and after your event.

5 Steps: How To Market An Event In Two Weeks Using Facebook Advertising: Case Study Stafford Raptors - YouTube
Brands choosing to leverage social media are able to bring organizers, speakers, vendors, attendees, and non-attendees together, allowing conversation, debate, information and of course good old fashioned networking to take place. Social media is also the ideal space for building connections and capitalizing on leads in the hours or days after your event has taken place.

The creation of a memorable and well-publicised Twitter hashtag will ensure that the conversation isn’t limited to one platform and people can very easily follow and contribute whenever and however they want. Like all event marketing tactics, getting social media right, means understanding your audience

#2. Wearable tech

Technologies including Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS can be used to understand exactly how attendees experience and interact with events by collecting and measuring key data metrics.

Data gathered by wearable tech is helping event marketers to introduce new levels of personalization and ensure that each attendee receives the information they want and need during the event. After all, this is crucial because you need to know precisely how to successfully capitalize on each interaction with every event attendee.

#3. Mobile event apps

Event apps usage is on the rise, with the top 10% of companies reporting that at least 90% of their attendees used their app during events, according to a benchmark analysis by the Event Marketing Institute and CrowdCompass.

5 Trends in Event Mobile Apps - YouTube
Fundamentally, event apps encourage attendee engagement and nurture conversation provided they utilize features and contain information your attendees find appealing. Floor plans, agendas, speaker profiles, and live polling should all be considered but you could also integrate your social media presence and broadcast notable snippets shared on your event app across your social platforms.

#4. Digital signage

Digital signage technology has seen enormous developments in recent years, partly thanks to the uptake in social media integration and mobile apps used at events. This technology doesn’t detract from the value of connecting face-to-face. In fact, it revitalizes business events, boosts the memorability factor, and demonstrates that innovation is both exciting and something to strive for.

Different channels, platforms, and digital devices are more compatible than ever before, generating new possibilities to utilize technology to create increasingly personalized event experiences which actively encourage meaningful communication and greater social interactions. One way to utilize the interactivity of digital signage is to integrate a social media wall displaying Facebook posts and Tweets in real-time.

#5. Virtual and augmented reality

Despite the tech struggling to find its place in the marketing ecosphere, virtual and augmented reality has certainly started to find its footing within the events space.

Augmented reality shines when it is used to enrich exhibitions, offer alternative views of real-world environments, and within gamification designed to encourage direct engagement with a service or product.

The Year VR Took Over CES 2017 - YouTube
Virtual reality can also be used in similarly creative ways including encouraging active event participation, amplifying intrigue, and as an interactive educational tool. Additionally, virtual reality can be used by events teams in the planning stages, allowing them to take virtual tours of potential venues and helping to put together a shortlist without first having to go and inspect them in person.

Guest author: Denise Sharpe is Managing Director and founding partner of Outsourced Events, a London based event management company. With over twenty years in the event industry, she has helped run events for global corporates such as Dell, Citrix and renowned UK organisations like the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. You can get in touch with Outsourced Events on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or check out more of Denise’s insights on their event blog.

The post 5 Event Technologies That Will Supercharge Your Next Promotional Event appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Books are my guilty pleasure.

I should be working but I am reading.

I should be sleeping but I am still reading.

I should be exercising but I have been lured again……

By the temptation to read.

What do I love about books?

Books provide insights into the distilled thoughts that are often decades in the making.

They reveal  the wisdom of sages and men and women who have built their work on the generations that have gone before them and next to them.

They are time machines that transport us in to the future or take us back to the distant past.

Books aren’t for everyone

But I know that devoting a lot of your time to reading isn’t for everyone because we all have different modalities of learning and absorbing information.

Some like to watch and other like to listen.

One of the real gifts of technology is that information and inspiration can now be provided in a range of mediums. That includes YouTube videos, podcasts and even audio books.

We are all different and some of us are stranger than others. But we need the mavericks. The crazy ones.

So what have I read recently that has inspired me and shown me new insights and tools to change my life?

Here are inspiring books that have continued to change my thinking about life.

#1. Tribe of Mentors

Tim Ferries inspired me 11 years ago to start a journey into the world of digital entrepreneurship. And over a decade later he is still is offering insights into what it means to be fully human.

Tribe of  Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World is not a book that you would want to consume in big chunks but in small bites.

The format of this book is one where Tim asked people that are the top of their game 11 questions.

These included:

  • What is the book or books you’ve given most as a gift? Or….what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
  • How has failure set you up for later success?
  • In the last 5 years, what new belief, failure or habit has most improved your life?

As I am always looking for inspiring new books and also key insights into what has made a difference in people’s lives this book distills the essence of what makes people succeed….and fail.

This book is a wonderful resource for ideas and tactics that you can test drive in your own life.

#2. How to Fly a Horse

Kevin Ashton is a serial entrepreneur who debunks the myth of innovation, creativity and success as being only for the special ones. The geniuses that have been chosen by nature to succeed.

He believes that as humans we are all innately creative and it comes down to one thing.

Process.

If we can only sit down, show up and keep “doing” every day then the possibilities are just waiting to be manifested.

Woody Allen said  “80% of success is just showing up” and in the context of this book it now makes total sense to me.

I can identify with this as I discovered that success shows up if you persist and keep creating every day despite disappointment and setbacks.

His book “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery” is a great read that will give you hope, despite friends or teachers telling you that you were ordinary.

Ordinary can become extraordinary if you persist in “showing up” every day.

#3. The Creative Habit

You may have detected a bit of a theme in this book list.

Many of us have completed IQ tests and have been categorised and dropped into that “not so smart” bin.

But they don’t measure things like persistence, discipline and motivation.

It is good to be bright but it’s better to start and create habits that over time transform your life.

The Habit of “Deep Work” transformed my life.

The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use It For Life” is by Twyla Tharp who is one of the world’s leading choreographers, and creator of the smash-hit Broadway show, Movin’ Out.

In it she shares her secrets for developing and honing your creative talents.

#4. The Artists Journey

Stephen Pressfield is one of my favourite authors.

His books are often short but beautifully written with wit and wisdom.

He has perfected the art of distilling powerful insights into the human condition. These include how to overcome life’s challenges and road blocks and break through to success.

The Artists Journey: The Wake of the Heroes Journey and The Lifetime Pursuit of Meaning will inspire you to do the work.

#5. The Resilience Factor

Life sometimes just flows. At other times you feel like you are waging a war and are being overwhelmed with chaos as things beyond your control threaten to draw you into the abyss.

This is when resilience is needed.

The book The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté is a book based on scientific research.

The 7 skills include:

  • Avoiding thinking traps
  • Detecting icebergs
  •  Overcoming challenging beliefs

Resilience can be learned. It is a skill that we all need.

And we will need it in parenting, business, work and just for “life” when it shows up in all its glorious imperfection.

Want more inspiring books?

Here are a few more books that got onto my reading list.

Check them out.

The post 5 Inspiring Books That May Change Your Thinking About Life appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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It’s no longer news: a quiz is a type of content. Content marketers’ obsession with blogging, which a 2018 research shows 79% of them use, is one reason why you should consider other forms of content. Or if you’re like me and you don’t plan to stop blogging, but wish to shake things up a bit every now and then, a quiz is a type of content you should use.

Apart from adding variety to your content, there’s some data behind why a quiz is a valuable type of content.

  • A quiz brought Zenni Optical over $1 million in revenue.
  • A quiz can get as high as a 64% conversion rate.
  • Quizzes generally have an 81% completion rate (which I’d bet is a higher rate than the number of people who read a blog post to the end)

I’m pretty sure you don’t need further convincing now. And the good news is, it’s easy to create and wow your audience with quizzes. Just do these things right:

1. Choose the right title and type of quiz

When creating titles or headlines, there are several templates you can use. Some examples include:

  • Titles for knowledge quizzes: Knowledge powers a better world. And humans are always seeking knowledge. That’s why marketers create blogs in the first place. Let your quiz title tell participants they’ll learn without the pressure of grades or a classroom and they’ll happily take the quiz. Examples of such titles include:

How Well Do You Know X?

Do You Actually Know X?

Do You Really Know How X Affects Y?

How Much Do You Know About X?

Myths and Facts About X

The Truth About X

The list goes on. Here are some examples from WebMD’s collection of Diabetes Quizzes.

  • Personality quiz title

You know the one, and chances are, you’ve taken a personality quiz before. Here’s an example from Buzzfeed.

Taking the quiz will tell you which state you belong in.

And another from this site you’re reading.

Take this quiz to discover what type of digital marketer you are.

Those titles arouse curiosity, and even though people may not finish your quiz – remember I mentioned earlier that quizzes have an 81% completion rate – they’ll click through to start it. Some templates include:

Perform Y and I’ll Tell You What Type of X You Are

Do You Know What Type of X You Are?

Design an X and We’ll Tell You What Type of Y You Are

What Type of X Are You?

Did you see what I did there with the subheads about creating quiz titles? You may scroll up again but I italicized some words. They’re basically the two types of quizzes we have.

  • Personality quizzes
  • Knowledge quizzes

Sites like Buzzfeed or WebMD have a wide variety of quizzes, so you can get some inspiration from their quizzes section for help with choosing your quiz title. Additionally, check where most of their traffic comes from especially if they’re in your niche, as this will enhance your quiz distribution efforts later. Always remember that 80% of readers read just the headline to decide whether your content is something worth devouring or not.

2. Ask the right questions

For quizzes, the questions and their possible answers or options are the main content and they should live up to the promise of the headline. Otherwise, your quiz completion rate will drop. Sometimes I find myself starting a quiz and stopping before I get to the end because the questions are too difficult or take too long to answer.

It’s more important because these days, the average human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish. Keep the following in mind when preparing questions for your quiz.

  • Make the questions short enough to understand, but just long enough so that a participant doesn’t need to reread several times to decipher how to answer.
  • Inject your site’s tone of voice in the questions. It helps to prep the audience for what to expect in future content from your brand.
  • Depending on the type of quiz, i.e specifically knowledge quizzes, prepare answers so participants can see their performance and/or the right answer as they progress. It can help to keep them motivated to complete the quiz. Here’s an example from this brain quiz on WebMD.

  • Avoid wordiness whenever possible. It’s respectful of participants’ time. There are plenty of ways this question and the options can be rephrased, but this is just short and sweet.

  • Include images at your discretion. Visuals are great but don’t let them distract participants from the quiz.

Remember, your quiz should have 6 to 11 questions that will take 2-4 minutes at most to answer. In fact, depending on your audience, 4 minutes might be overkill and 2-3 minutes is a sweet spot. You’ll gain more insight when you perform a/b testing.

3. Offer relevant incentives

Sure, the promise of knowledge or discovery in your headline might be enough to lure people to take your quiz – this is another reason why the right topic and headline will do wonders for you. However, it’s often not enough, and you’ll need to add additional incentives to encourage your audience to take the quiz.

Incentives you can use include an ebook, a free report, or a giveaway. On Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich, a quiz welcomes you when you get to his homepage.

Notice that he offers a free custom report to people who take and complete the quiz. “Custom” is perfect because at the end of the quiz, the report is generated based on your answers. That means, whatever your earning potential, there’s a free report for you.

Knowing how much Ramit tests and discards what’s not working for him ruthlessly, I believe that the presence of that quiz on his homepage is a testament to the fact that it works.

As marketers, quizzes are a good way to grow your email list. Sometimes people offer incentives like iPads or iPhones for their quizzes even though it’s completely unrelated to their business.

Offer the appropriate incentive to ensure that the people who sign up to your list are not there solely for a chance to win an iPad but because they’ll love to hear from you again in future.

4. Nurture participants

At the end of the quiz, you can provide sharing options for people to share their results or the quiz on social media. WebMD does this perfectly – you can share the quiz and/or your quiz result on social media.

Not a bad score, but I should do better next time

At the end of Ramit’s quiz, there’s a form where you sign up to receive your custom report and he tells you upfront that you’ll receive a few emails from him each week.

IWTYTBR lead capture form as it appears on mobile

Be honest with participants and let them know that you’ll send other emails their way after you’ve sent them the incentive they signed up for when they took their quiz. Don’t skimp on this, as it can also save you from legal and financial troubles in the future in light of Europe’s new GDPR laws.

Also, apart from following email design basics like keeping things minimal, using responsive templates, and even testing your emails on various devices and browsers, here are other tips for nurturing these newcomers to your email list:

  • Thank them for taking your quiz. It’s best if you send them an email to confirm their subscription first before you send the thank you email. It will remind them that they opted in to, and they’re willing to receive an email from you. It also sets the tone for subsequent emails.
  • Send case studies and testimonials of people who were like them to show how your product or service helped them.
  • Convert them into paying customers. Use an email copywriter or your email copywriting expertise to sell your products and services.
Enhance your marketing efforts

Quizzes will not fix all your marketing problems. But if you want to gain more leads, integrate quizzes into your content strategy. Be ready to nurture them and lead them down the sales funnel.

Or you can create them for fun like WebMD does. That will increase engagement with your audience. Either way, quizzes are beneficial beyond self-serving purposes. Use them.

Guest author: Vikas Agrawal is a start-up Investor & co-founder of the Infographic design agency Infobrandz that offers creative and premium visual content solutions to medium to large companies. Content created by Infobrandz are loved, shared & can be found all over the internet on high authority platforms like HuffingtonPost, Businessinsider, Forbes , Tech.co & EliteDaily. 

The post How to Create Personalized Marketing Quizzes To Boost Your Digital Growth Objectives appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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The future is filled with content.

Content marketers will have to deal with more content because content will continue to be the heart and soul of marketing.

There is no way around that.

If you are wondering why it’s probably because content marketing is estimated to become a $300 billion industry by 2019. And at this pace, in next four years, it will be triple of what it is now. This prediction comes riding high on the fact that Google’s indexed pages have crossed 30 trillion in the last seven years.

Image Source: Statista

Since content is the present and the future, it is only evident that B2B marketers are spending 39% of their marketing budget in developing customer-centric content. That’s right. Not just any content, but content that customers want.

Content marketers have become smart in their approach. They are more focused on creating content that aligns with their potential leads and existing customers. Everything seems to fall into place except the fact that 27% of marketers suggest that their content marketing efforts fail due to a budget crisis.

A content marketing budget can be a tricky thing for marketers. Often, it becomes difficult to show immediate results because content takes time to show up as a revenue booster. It is not a short-term marketing activity where you post a blog and voila! You have leads. Nope.

It takes a lot of patience and proper budgeting to get things rolling for your brand. But first things first.

Why spend on Content Marketing?

There is no alternative to content. Neither a replacement. Content happens to be the most functional form of modern advertising. It incurs a lesser cost as compared to traditional advertising but creates a better emotional impact on its readers.

Content triggers emotions in your readers. And emotions contribute to sales. Add to this; the modern day content bots are taking the world by storm already.

Here’s the thing: You can lower your content marketing budget effectively and still succeed with your content efforts. How? Below are 9 tried and tested methods that proved beneficial for my company.

#1. Go for quality over quantity

Your content will educate and nurture your leads and customers. So a poorly written piece of content will only cause damage. Well-researched content can help your leads and customers gain value, become more aware of the current problem statement, and keep them hooked on your brand for more.

Your content quality is of prime importance here. While it is necessary to publish content frequently, it is also not at the cost of compromising with the content quality.

Image Source: MarketingProfs

Make room in your content budget for quality writing. Give your content the necessary time to research and put together information that will benefit your audience, will add value to your brand and urge your readers to share to their networks.

Some well researched content examples:

  1. How to make content marketing work in ‘boring’ niches
  2. How to integrate successful SEO with other online marketing strategies
  3. Anatomy of a top performing Instagram post
 #2. Identify your buyers before you start creating content

Your content has a purpose. If you are not clear about your target audience, you cannot create content that will benefit them. The starting point has to be: Identify your buyer persona and customer lifecycle.

Based on your buyer’s persona, your content material, topics, and marketing channels will alter.

The sole purpose of your content is to educate, nurture and propel your leads and customers to the next stage of their buying cycle. If your content is not doing that, then it is a waste of time and resources.

Image Source: Single Grain

For instance, if your ideal buyers are social media marketers of a mid-senior level, articles like How facebook’s F8 announcement will impact your social video strategy and Does social media impact SEO? We ran an experiment to find out by Hootsuite will be of great help. Notice the topics of these two articles – the first one deals with the impact of a recent announcement and the second one is about an experiment with realistic results and data. Both these articles are a good read for a mid-senior-level social media marketer.

However, if you are writing about anything else that is not even remotely related to social media marketing, you are instantly driving away your potential readers (and leads).

Key takeaway: Know your audience before you write for them.

#3. You are better off without low-authority publishers

Cross-publishing is a great way to cut down your content marketing budget and make your content count. When you contribute to another platform, you get the scope to connect to a wider audience. It gives your content more exposure, as revealed by Sharon Hurley Hall from BasicBlogTips. Sharon contributed to other platforms apart from BasicBlogTips and saw a 9% increase in traffic.

Image Source: BasicBlogTips

However, we all know how much time and effort goes into writing a single content piece. Also, many platforms charge fees to accept your contribution. In light of these two factors, opting for platforms that have low authority can potentially rupture your content marketing budget.

Publishing your content on platforms that have lesser follower-base than yours or do not write quality content, will only exhaust your resources.

If you want to contribute, get connected with publishing platforms that have a steady follower base. Pick publishers who publish articles that are similar to your domain. For instance, if you are writing on marketing automation, lead generation, social media marketing and trying to nudge a financial platform to publish your article, you will face rejections. Even if they agree (which would be very unlikely), your efforts will still be wasted. Their audience and yours are different. So any leads coming from that platform are a wasted lead because clearly, they are not a part of your ideal buyer persona.

#4. Focus on organic leads

Content marketing channels are evolving every minute. The distribution of your budget across various spending areas like content creation, pay-per-click ads, social media, and video content are changing. Hence, create a budget that allows space for all these changes while focusing on bringing in maximum organic leads.

Paid advertisements are great. Running only paid ads on social media platforms and search engines may give you more views and clicks. But in the long-run, investing in paid ads without tracking and monitoring will exhaust your content budget with zero results.

Content marketing, when done right, can trigger a steady influx of organic leads. Organic leads are your most qualified leads because they come to read your content on their own accord. You make your content found on search engines for your target audience.

If you are wondering how to do this, you can learn from the world’s leading marketers. Recently Forbes put together the success formula of top 6 prominent marketers to make content marketing work and how to generate organic leads.

These marketers tell you the strategies that worked rather than repeating what everyone is saying. For instance, Benji Hyam, co-founder of Grow and Convert, and Wordable.io asks to take a break from the stereotyped advice of creating ebooks, whitepapers, downloadable assets to convert your traffic. He instead focuses on including an effective call-to-action in your marketing channel. Benji believes in keeping the communication going.

#5. Study Google Analytics to know where you are spending unnecessarily

Your content marketing strategy includes multiple platforms for marketing. You create paid ads, invest in SEO, buy templates for landing pages, invest in content marketing tools, and also some tracking and monitoring tools. Awesome.

Now go back to the starting point. Which of these investments genuinely gives you a return? It is not possible that all have equal ROIs.

Use Google Analytics to figure out the most effective channels that drive maximum leads to your website or blog. Cut down your expenses on other platforms that give lesser or zero ROI. Instead of spending on several content marketing tools, first, know what metrics you want to track.

Google Analytics is pretty robust regarding tracking and monitoring. Unless you want something super extra, stick to Google Analytics. That way your budget remains under control.

Before including every other channel in your content marketing strategy, read various blogs to know the recent content marketing rules and trends. Understand where and how your business fits within these trends. And then, go about fixing your content marketing budget.

Pro Tip: You can take a look at these 16 top Marketing Blogs to stay updated with all the recent trends.

#6. Use free and low-cost content promotion tools

Writing content is not enough. You need to promote your content as much as possible so that it reaches a larger audience set. Sharing on social media platforms is one way. Another way is picking the right promotion platform. Social platforms are free and work well in triggering hype. It initiates discussion and sharing, which is great for your content.

You can schedule social media updates for free with relevant hashtags. Hashtags are a good way to increase the reach for your content.

Image Source: Smart Insights Facebook Page

When it comes to content promotion tools, try opting for a tool that is budget friendly and does the job. One such tool is Quuu which is a great platform to promote your content. For each successful publication on Quuu, you get credits that you can use for your next publication.

PS: Since we are talking about cheap tools, I will also quickly mention various designs that you need for your content. You can opt for tools like Canva and Pablo by Buffer to mention a few. These tools have great templates for free to make your design fast and also look good.

#7. Create reusable content

Create content that you can reuse for a more extended period. Republish old blogs, convert them into infographics or videos. You can do the reverse too.

Repurposing your content brings down your content budget effectively because it is a one-time spend and then it is being reused.

This doesn’t rule out the ‘unique content’ factor. Every piece of content of yours has to be unique and relevant to your buyer’s persona, buying stages, demographics, and events. But you should always have general marketing assets that you can reuse in various ways from time to time.

#8. Encourage community promotions of your content

Community promotions encourage more and more clicks and shares. You get to connect with a vibrant community discussing a common topic in one place. These communities are also a good place to look for content.

A few good communities include:

  1. Quora
  2. LinkedIn groups
  3. Individual brand communities

If you are actively participating in these discussions, you will get ample scope to put forward your point as well as share relevant content to propel the discussion. Ask for feedback on your content, conduct surveys to know recent trends, ask for influencer quotes and make them re-share your content, and keep educating interested people. Read for yourself how Grow and Convert grew their traffic from zero to 32,977 users in 5 months via community promotion only.

Many of these communities are closed groups, monitored by an admin or a group of admins. This means there will only be people who are genuinely interested in knowing and talking about some specific domains or topics. Unnecessary clutter is already kicked out for you.

#9. Make room for adjustments

You have created the most optimum content budget. You have listed down each tool you will be using. You have also put down the total time you will require, which kind of promotional campaigns you will do, which kind of content you will create, and how you will monitor your performance.

Awesome.

But wait. This is not set in stone. Your content marketing budget will alter when you start implementing your plan real-time. It will (or should I say) grow as your brand starts getting more leads and customers.

Hence, the final takeaway is: Create a minimalistic content budget but also keep room for adjustments like a new target audience, additional lead segments, and new content requirements.

When you keep adjusting your content budget according to immediate demands, you have a better chance at staying consistent with your content efforts amidst the changing trends. Your content strategy continues to be relevant and generates better ROI.

Content marketing is here to stay

It isn’t surprising that most companies of all sizes are focusing on creating functional content; content that is actionable and keeps flexibility within the content budget. This strategy works in favor of content marketers who plan to build a robust content future.

The power of content is already evident. It will not stop here. After all, content is the way of 2018 and beyond.

Guest author: Ankit Prakash is a technology entrepreneur at Aritic – Full Stack Marketing Automation software platform for digital business at Aritic with Sales CRM, Transactional Mail, and Desk. Ankit also spends a majority of his time reviewing various marketing tools and platforms on his marketing blog- Sprout24. Follow Ankit on Twitter at @ankitpr89

The post 9 Smart Ways You Can Reduce Your Content Marketing Budget Without Dropping Your Standards appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Email seems like a left-over and forgotten communication tool in the era of Instagram and Facebook. But, email marketing is probably the best way to reach out to your customers. In fact, more than 80% of small and medium-sized retailers in the US believe it drives the best customer acquisition and retention. It also commands an excellent return on investment with marketers making $40 for every $1 they spend on the email marketing.

Although it’s highly effective, most marketers fail to realize the full potential of email marketing. Sending email newsletters for the sake of sending them is unlikely to convert your prospects into buyers. If anything, it may make them feel downright irritated. Plus, you’re competing with 100 others in their inbox. That’s why you need to make sure your newsletter is the best.

The following four tips will help improve your newsletters by a mile.

1. Figure out the need

The first thing that should come to your mind is… Why are you writing this newsletter? If you don’t know the answer to this question, how can your newsletter make an impact on the readers? So go figure out who your target audience is, and what action you would want them to take after reading the newsletter.

Some common objectives could be:

  • Generate new leads
  • Get prospects to download free material such as an e-book or whitepaper
  • Promote a new product, seasonal sale, or latest offerings
  • Offer a solution to a particular issue in your niche
  • Build and enhance your online reputation

Here’s a familiar example. A lot of us in the digital media industry use Trello for task management. In essence, Trello helps boost productivity and makes time management simpler. Recently, their newsletter covered the topic “Productive morning routine” which falls right into their niche, and a problem most users are probably struggling with. The newsletter provides links to curated articles that provide in-depth information about the topic. It boasts a well-crafted message with a clear-cut call to action (CTA) at the end.

Just like this, you also need to focus on the needs of your users. Make your goal clear in the headline itself (in this case, it is to tell people how to have productive mornings). Don’t get into too many details right away. Just provide one or two types of information (here, there are resources for further reading) and a well-defined CTA.

2. Get creative

With a short attention span and an inbox overflowing with newsletters, you might be forgiven for thinking that the chances your newsletter will get the complete attention of a prospect are very slim. Well, here’s a pleasant surprise for you: the average time people spend reading emails has actually increased by more than one second!

That said, if your newsletter lacks creativity, it will probably end up in Trash, irrespective of how valuable the content is.

Fortunately, there are several ways to bring creativity into your newsletters.

  • Words can have a powerful impact. Use subject lines and headlines that resonate with your target audience. They should make an emotional promise or create a curiosity gap. You can use headline analyzers such as ShareThrough to determine the empathetic value of your headline or CTA.

  • Another way to improve your subject line or CTA is to create a sense of urgency or importance. Using words such as breaking news, urgent, hurry, and limited time offer can increase opening rates substantially. In the same vein, avoid using a lot of content because that will convey a sense of a lot of available time.

In this newsletter, Freelancer.com has used compelling words and graphics to capture the attention of the readers. The headline successfully builds curiosity, while there is a sense of urgency in the second subject line. The rest of the content is simple, straightforward, and to-the-point.

3. Unleash the power of visual content but don’t go overboard

Visuals such as images, animation, and graphics can make or break your newsletter. They can help showcase your brand in the best way possible. Here are some elements you should pay extra attention to:

Headers: You can use graphics-based headers to capture the attention of readers as soon as the email loads. DIY tools such as Stencil or Pixlr are a great place to start. Make sure you use the same fonts and logo layouts everywhere including your website, social media, and email newsletters.

Layout: Structure the layout so that users can see the most significant information first. Keep in mind the visual hierarchy of your content. Usually, it is prioritized from top to bottom. Keep your CTA or core message on the top to keep the readers interested. Use alt text on every image or graphics to make sure people can view your message if the visuals fail to load. Don’t go overboard with the graphics, though. Make sure to leave plenty of white space as it improves readability.

Gamification via animation: You can also include a creative CTA through gamification or virtual scratch cards or using animations. Maybe you can add a virtual scratch card, discount coupon, or use an interactive CTA to attract readers.

Here’s an example:

4. Make it for your users, not for your company

Your newsletter won’t be able to draw and sustain a consistent and engaged readership if it keeps going on and on about your brand. You need to share relevant information that your audience can use. The newsletter is about them, not about you.

Include Third Party Content: Incorporating third-party content from your partners, industry experts, and influencers can be a great way to align your newsletter with your target audience. You can also cross-promote your newsletter with vendors, friendly local brands, or other businesses that cater to the same target audience.

Include User Generated Content: Another way to add value to your newsletter is to include user-generated content. It involves sharing content created by your consumers, fans, and even your employees. You can use some real-life examples or client stories or answer a few queries about your product or service through user-generated content. It will add a personal touch to your newsletter, which in turn, will attract more readers.

Share Trending Topics: Lastly, you can use the newsletter as a platform to share trending news in your niche. People like it if their favorite brand keeps them in the know about the latest happenings that interest them. However, don’t confuse being consistent with providing slam-dunk content. Always try to provide something your users can’t find anywhere else.

This newsletter from Austin Kleon is one of the best examples of how to use third-party content to make your newsletter more educational and less promotional. He uses content curated from all over the web and maintains an overall informal tone as if talking to people in real time.

Over to you

Having a high-performing newsletter can work wonders for your overall digital marketing. With these four strategies, you will be able to improve your newsletter quality substantially. Over time, you will enjoy a broader and more dedicated readership in your niche. Hopefully, the examples shared here will inspire you to come up with something unique and original!

Guest author: Jaydip Parikh is the founder of Tej SolPro – a leading SEO agency which provides white hat SEO services to clients across the globe. Jaydip has more than 15 years of experience in the field of sales and digital marketing. He has taken lectures on various topics of digital marketing at numerous renowned institutes. He regularly speaks at various conferences and events, both online and offline. He is known as Jaydip Baba in the digital marketing industry.

The post 4 Secret Tactics For Breathing New Life Into Your Email Newsletter appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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